Beauty / Society

Skincare science: why ectoin is the under-the-radar moisturiser you need this winter

By Fiona Embleton
Cream Makeup moisturizer moisturiser texture

Photo: Getty

It’s perhaps not as sexy as hyaluronic acid – or as well known. But ectoin is one of the most effective ingredients to combat dehydrated skin.

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Ectoin needs hyaluronic acid’s publicist. Beloved for its ability to deeply hydrate and plump out the skin’s surface in seconds, hyaluronic acid has acquired the type of loyal following usually bestowed on rock stars. But what if we told you that despite being lesser known, ectoin actually delivers superior benefits to the skin?

What is ectoin?

“Ectoin is a powerful molecule, known as an extremolyte,” explains Anne Schrötter, from ingredient supplier Bitop. “This is essentially a small molecule that protects micro-organisms from dehydration and environmental stressors, such as UV radiation and extreme temperature changes.”

In the natural world, ectoin can be found in some of the most hostile environments in the world, such as salt lakes and deserts. In fact, it was first discovered in Africa’s Wadi El Naturn desert in 1985, when a water sample revealed that tiny micro-organisms produced ectoin as a self-defence molecule to protect against dehydration from high salt concentrations. “Now nature’s genius survival strategy has made its way into skincare,” adds Schrötter.

The benefits of ectoin in skincare